Produce auction closes 2008 fair

Another successful Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau Fair is in the books, and the final event under the big blue and white tent showcased the cream of this year’s crop of fruits and vegetables, which had been entered into Thursday’s judging and was auctioned off yesterday afternoon with proceeds going to the fair’s scholarship fund.

“It was fabulous,” said Farm Bureau President Liz Ronaldson of the auction, which was supported by Big Save. “I see a lot of smiles.”

The top-grossing item, a best-in-show green winter melon used in traditional Chinese soups, pulled in $35 by itself. Farm Bureau’s Laurie Ho said she placed the winning bid on behalf of recently retired livestock extension agent Lincoln Ching.

Blue ribbon fruits and veggies, as well as more than 50 boxes of assorted produce, were auctioned off live by farmer Jerry Ornellas, raising hundreds of dollars for a good cause.

“Whatever you give here gets given back to our community a hundred times over, so when you support this, it just comes out everywhere” said Sherry Hoe, who was the high bidder on boxes of produce to share with her elderly Lihu‘e neighbors and has been coming to the fair for more than a decade. “We’re signing up to help next year with the actual set-up. So we’re going to get down and dirty.”

Items auctioned off included many varieties of mangos, avocados, low-acid pineapples, apple bananas, jackfruit, coffee beans, asparagus, pumpkins, squash, papayas, oranges, tangerines, lilikoi, starfruit, cucumbers, tomatoes and more.

“I’m here looking for mangos,” said Liberta Albao of Wailua Homesteads, who won a few items and was a player in others. “Mangos are my favorite.”

Everyone came with their own shopping lists.

“I got so many kinds of lemons!” said an excited Sam Hamilton, who won two consecutive items, each containing a wide variety of items but both including a handful of the sweet, tart fruit. “My roommates are going to be so stoked.”

Queenie Pezario of Kapa‘a was looking for something a little more rare.

“This is what I came looking for,” Pezario said, pointing to an item that looked like a cluster of roots in the middle of a box for which she paid $16. “This is the ‘olena. It’s not just a regular ginger. We use it mainly for old Hawaiian medicine.

“You grind the roots, and you can drink it or you can use it for earaches or nasal congestion,” she said. “You can put it in an eye dropper, but you have to dilute in water, because it’s very strong. This ginger is hot. It’s like chili pepper hot.”

The fair kicked off on Thursday evening and ended last night.

While the new 300-foot agricultural exhibit tent was already in the process of being emptied as of the end of the auction and would likely be totally disassembled before dark, Ronaldson said that rides, games and food were planned to continue through the evening, and a published schedule says master hypnotist Tina Marie and the Maltese Family Aerial Circus were still yet to perform their final shows.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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